Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pay it Forward - The Winners

A while ago I posted about receiving a package from Kierna at Learning for Life in Northern Ireland as part of the Pay it Forward initiative. It is now time to announce the lucky recipients of my packages, but before I do I think it would be a lovely gesture to retrace the path of this concept back from this site so we can acknowledge the wonderful kindness displayed by many others before.

Kierna posted about receiving her package from Karen at Flight of Whimsy in Melbourne. Karen in turn posted about receiving her package from Maureen from Strong Start in British Columbia. Maureen posted about receiving her package from Donna and Sherry from Irresistible Ideas for Placed Based Learning in Melbourne. The ladies posted about receiving their package from Scott at Brick by Brick in Tennessee.

This brings us back just over a year ago when Scott posted about receiving his package from Mom and Kiddo at What We Do All Day in New York. Mom and Kiddo in turn posted about their package from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  They posted about their package arriving from Kylie at Our Worldwide Classroom in Australia. Kylie raved about the package she received from MaryLea at Pink and Green Mama in the US, but when she initially posted about it there were no replies. It was almost two years later before she tried again in the above post and this time was successful in getting some willing participants.

Well that takes us way back to October 2009. I'm sure you could trace this line back even further if you wanted, but that will do for now. So this particular line of the Pay it Forward has traversed the globe back and forth multiple times.

So here are the winners:
My Mommy is Awesome from Puerto Rico
For the Children from USA

Rubber Boot and Elf Shoes from Canada

If you people can send me your postal addresses I will get these special packages out to you as soon as possible. The packages will contain items representing Australia, the Hunter Valley which is the region I am from and Kurri Kurri, the town I currently live in.
Now all these lucky people need to do is wait for their surprise packages to arrive so they can share them with their children. Then in order to keep the good will flowing they need to post on their blog or other media, calling for participants. Set a deadline date and draw three lucky recipients that will then receive their very own package. It's up to you what you include or how you choose who to send to. Good luck and congratulations to the winners. For those who missed out, don't lose heart. There are many Pay it Forwards going around so keep an eye out and try again. We weren' successful until our third attempt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ANZAC Day and Preschoolers

For those of you not in the know, ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. Every year on April 25th this day is used to remember the fallen from these two nations. The reason for the date is that this was the day in 1915 that Australian and New Zealand troops were led onto Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. I will not go into details here of what took place, but if you would like to read more about it visit the Australian War Memorial site.

What I do want to share is that this day is one of the most significant on the Australian calendar. For this reason I believe it is important for young children to have the opportunity to learn about its significance and the history behind it. Despite the subject matter being quite grave it is still possible to explore this with preschoolers.

A few years ago I worked at a service that was located in a town that was also home to an army base and museum. Consequently one of our dads was a soldier. As we approached Anzac Day I asked if would be willing to talk to the children about why the day is important to him and what he would be doing on the day.

Again, I won't go into too much detail. Suffice to say the children were engrossed and listened intently to all he had to say. I later found out how much this experienced had touched some of the children and their families. No less then 6 of the children and their parents attended the Dawn Service the following morning. For four of these sets of parents it was also the first Dawn Service they had attended. All because their children couldn't stop talking about their visitor and what he had to say.

Every individual and service will have to decide for themselves if this is the sort of topic they would discuss with their children, but I would suggest that these are exactly the teachable moments we look for. If we trust children to make informed choices and take considered risks during their play then I believe we should For me, this was a worthwhile experience that incorporated the astounding knowledge of a father. Coincidentally I recently posted about engaging fathers more. It was also a wonderful way to include and raise awareness of an important part of the local community, the army.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the Boys

Often we in the early childhood profession are faced with challenges of one sort or another. One of the those that seems to keep resurfacing is meeting the unique challenges and needs of boys. This article from early Childhood News titled, "The Challenge of Boys in Our Early Childhood Programs" looks at ways in which we can all address these issues. One of the reasons it identifies for the struggle boy have  is the feminine dominant culture of the workforce. It also suggests getting more men into the profession and engaging more fathers as ways to help boys.

Whether we be male or female, we all need to meet the unique needs of all children in our care, regardless of their gender. However, he fact that there needs to be workshops on how to engage boys or better understand how they learn speaks volumes. Regardless of who we are, we have to fight for the right of all children. If  that means getting dirty, on our knees, dressing up in all sorts of costumes, sharing their adventures, victories and defeats, or simply listening to them then that's what we must do.

Yes, men are a key component to addressing the issues in young boys' education. But we are not meant to shoulder all the responsibility. Men are more likely to engage in the types of play boys prefer, but seeing as women dominate the workforce, it is up to them as well to ensure they are doing all they can for the boys.

We should be united in this people. All children are relying on us, particularly the boys. In the spirit of the fire brigade, Get Down Low and Go, Go, Go! They'll love you for it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hot Off the Presses - Engaging Fathers

In the latest edition of Early Childhood Australia's WebWatch there is so much useful information, as is usual. This month they share an article from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health publication, Foundations. You may find all the articles of benefit to you in one way or another, yet it is the one titled "Engaging Fathers in Early Childhood Services" that is the reason for this post as you can most likely gather from its title.

The article doesn't propose to provide answers to the dilemma of how to encourage more men, whether they be fathers, other significant males, or men in general to become better involved in early childhood settings. What it does do is ask many questions, but only a sample of those that could be pondered. It then goes about and explains how one service, that of the author, put processes in place to address their concerns in this area.

Reading this article will not arm you with the knowledge to combat the dearth of men in early childhood services or the lack of men having a positive influence in your child's life, but it should encourage you as a professional and/or parent to critically think about how you interact with men and, in particular, how these men are able to engage with the children/your child and staff/other family members.

Encouraging more men into the profession is a wonderful goal to have and one which would see benefits likely to flow on to children, families, staff and services. However, it might just be just as crucial to work a bit harder to engage the males that are already part of the system, even if most of them may seem like invisible participants.

If services and professionals espouse to be inclusive of all within their services then that should include, but not be limited to, the men in children's lives. I personally believe that these men do not necessarily have to part of the family structure either. Males from the community that children have connections with are  just as valid in my book. Police officers, bus drivers, postal workers, etc all may have some role to play in broadening the presence of men in children's lives.

A special acknowledgement needs to go to Jannelle Gallagher and Dr Richard Fletcher, authors of the article referred to in this post. I have known Jannelle for many years with my own children attending her service. I also have first hand experience of her dedication to increasing the male presence in early childhood services. As for Dr Fletcher, I have not had the privilege to meet him, but I have been aware of his wonderful work with fathers through the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle.

Any headway made in encouraging more men into the early childhood sector in Australia would be due in no small part to work of these two tireless campaigners.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Direction

For the forseeable future there will be no posts relating to my current work. All efforts will be made to continue the promotions of the positive aspects of having males work in early childhood education and care. There may even be a few more guest posts by some very highly respected bloggers, other males working with children and fellow professionals who have something worthwhile to contribute.

I'll begin this new chapter by sharing a relatively new group of male early childhood students at the University of South Australia on facebook known as The MENtor Program. As this is a closed group you will need to be invited to join, but they are keen for new members, especially from guys already in the industry to offer support to these students. Why not drop by & request an invite.